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Nocturno, by Sandra Cinto

Nocturno is the site-specific installation that marks the return of the Brazilian artist Sandra Cinto to our country, shown at Appleton Square until June 22, curated by David Barro. Sharing the title of the exhibition held last May at the Casa Triângulo gallery, in São Paulo, the exhibition has a reflective aspect, as a sort of assessment centred on the career of an artist who has been extending her multidisciplinary production for two decades now, encompassing both design (for the most part) and painting (her first), but also sculpture and installation, particularly the public art projects she has been developing. The project assembled in the Portuguese capital is an extension of the previous one, yet again translated into a large format, meticulous and strongly introspective intervention, developed by the artist over a five-day period, almost uninterruptedly. With the exception of two small never-seen-before canvases, she directly intervened on the walls of the exhibition room of the cultural association, relying on pens, particularly ballpoint and silver pens, with which she defined a lacy trace – both precise and subtle –, her most unique trademark.

As consubstantiated by Nocturno, Sandra Cinto gives almost always preference to the construction of landscapes, both naturalistic and dreamlike, endowed with a fierce graphical component, albeit never inhabited/corrupted by mankind. The suggestion, deriving from the clash between the spectator and the work, doesn’t look like a fall into the abyss, into a black hole from which one is eager to escape. Even when fully absorbed by the surrounding landscape, the suggestion is rather the immersion into an unlimited, boundless liberating, reassuring and captivating space. The need for rescue is not pondered. We surrender ourselves. As a matter of fact, there is not enough disposition to withstand the nocturnal atmospheres, of a devised cosmography or a fictional ocean, created by the artist with her subtle and assertive trace, influenced by the subtleness of the Japanese line work. There are rocking twists and turns (the presence of the swing and references to childhood are a recurrent presence in her work), bridges that invite us to cross, without accidents, longing for a time now gone. We feel submerged, perhaps overflying. But unavoidably in silence and alone, thus awakening, in this battle with the immensity, the awareness of our own insignificance and tininess. That space of unpretentiousness and decompression is where we tend to dive in, or one that flies towards us, forcing us to fight our own selves.

The title, Nocturno, emphasizes the privileged relation of Sandra Cinto’s work with the musical realm, referencing compositions that, assuming the very same designation, are lined with an intimate and contemplative character, often conceived for piano. The artist seems to remind us that we have actually lost the habit of looking upward, staring at the sky, but also of looking into ourselves, of challenging and freeing ourselves from external and internal chains, of overthrowing walls, of overcoming ourselves, of dreaming, of crossing bridges and meeting the Other without losing sight of ourselves. Quoting the artist: “the unlimited space is not just outside the individual”. In the text he wrote for the exhibition, David Barro also points to an element of political contestation in Sandra Cinto’s work, which, from our perspective, can subtly echo through the dimension we have just described.

abca (Brazilian Association of Art Critics), as part of its annual awards, has recently distinguished Sandra Cinto by awarding her Prémio Mário Pedrosa, an award whose intent is to shine the light on a contemporary language artist. Another pivotal artist in the Brazilian landscape is Nelson Leiner, also acknowledged by the Portuguese audience (having been part of the iconic exhibition Um Oceano Inteiro para Nadar, in 2000) who, in his first phase, stated: “Your heaven is not a first communion tiny heaven. You want to talk about the sacredness of art! When you augment the painting and the viewer has a physical relationship with your work, then everything will change”. And it changed. Like we did.

Cristina Campos has a University Degree in Modern and Contemporary History, as well as two Post-graduate Degrees, one in Cultural Management and another in Journalism. She was a founder, coordinater and writer for Artecapital magazine. She was the main writer at Artes & Leilões magazine and a correspondent for Arte y Parte magazine. She currently works as a cultural mediator, mostly in Calouste Gulbenkian Museum.

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